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For example, in Texas we have two districts—we have three districts, El Paso, Houston, and Laredo, and if we wanted to stay within our own State, but open up offices in those various ports, that means we have to file three different applications.

I feel that once a customhouse broker has had his mettle tested by the examination given, and has been accepted through personal investigation, he should be entitled to go everywhere he feels like he can make a living, or wherever it is necessary to have an office.

With that, Mr. Chairman, unless you have some questions, I will say that I have a long trip, and I enjoyed being here with you.

[The prepared statement and attachments follow:] PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT F. BARNES, CUSTOMS BROKER, HIDALGO, TEX.

I am Robert F. Barnes, 111 South Bridge Avenue, Hidalgo, Texas 78557, licensed in 1952 as a customhouse broker with offices in Hidalgo, San Antonio and Houston, Texas. I am also a licensed attorney in Texas and Illinois, with an active practice in Hidalgo County, Texas. I come to you only in the capacity of a sole proprietor, whose life revolves around the problems of importers in everyday transactions with U.S. customs. These problems become the problems of customhouse brokers.

SECTION 592

In nearly 25 years as a customs broker, I have not been able to determine the fairness of section 592. The Customs Service sees itself as accuser, investigator, judge, jury, and finally, dispenser of penalties. By whatever name called, a “penalty” is the result of a crime. Therefore, why not give the recipient of the penalty the same safeguards given to the most petty criminal?

The United States magistrate hears evidence, etc., in the federal judiciary. Importers, customhouse brokers, and others exposed to custom penalties should have someone to hear the accusations and be a judge of violations other than the customs' port director or district director. In most, if not all ports, the director is not law trained. Likewise, the district director uses a clerk on customs' payroll to process and recommend action. Compare this to the court's clerk. Would you want a clerk to be the dispenser of penalties and fines?

I suggest a regional magistrate on circuit under the jurisdiction nf the customs court to hear complaints both by customs against an importer, or an importer against customs. Appeals to be taken to the custom court or federal district court. Since most of the complaints are fact issues, the right of a jury should be given.

Recently, my office wished to file a complaint against customs for refusal of an inspector to release our papers. Referring this to an agent for investigation, we were told we had no recourse against customs-only customs against our office. This philosophy has followed in errors made by customs that are not acted upon—but woe be unto the broker who makes a mistake. Presently, we are trying to get the return of $2,946.00, paid for an unintentional error.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A statute of limitations, similar to that found in the criminal codes, or IRS, should be imposed upon customs, as well as the importers. For example, protests to value or classification must be made within 90 days—but, after more than seven years, customs assessed my office for additional duties. Unfortunately, the importer was out of business, so I paid. There must be a time certain to close out customs' transactions.

EXAMPLES OF CUSTOMS' ACTIONS 1. In April, 1976, a resident of Tampico, Mexico, brought his twin Cessna to Miller International Field at McAllen, Texas, for repairs. He had done this over the years, and as always, cleared with customs, etc. The plane is seized on this trip, April 29, 1976. On May 4, 1976, the plane was released on a

baggage declaration, T.I.B. 70-H, with formal release to importer without surety deposit or bond. But, when the repairs were accomplished, importer was required to pay $300.00 “deposit.” Although request was made in November 1976, for return of “deposit,” no decision has been made. (76-2305-00260). Exhibit “A.

2. In July, 1976, a Mexican national purchased a rolex midas for his personal use from a duty free store in Hidalgo, Texas. A gold cigarette lighter was given as a present by the store owner. Possession of the articles was taken on return to Mexico. On his return to the United States, wearing the watch as his personal jewelry, the watch and lighter were seized. This gentleman was relieved of $1000.00 in penalties. (76–2305–00392). Exhibit "B."

3. Mr. Roger W. Miller of Champaign, Illinois, a Texas tourist, had his experience with the customs patrol at Miller International Airport, McAllen, Texas. His story has been well documented with Senator Percy's office, as I referred Mr. Williams to the Senator. Without mentioning names, one of the customs personnel that overheard the discussion and is familiar with the facts, told me he would file suit if he had been treated as Mr. Williams had been on February 3, 1977. (77-2305-00125).

4. The port of Hidalgo, Texas, is opposite one of two designated ports of exit for fresh produce from Mexico. Between December and May, the truck traffic is heavy, and constantly blocks free flow of vehicular movement. However, despite over 25 years of experience in expediously handling, customs, on December 14, 1976, issued a directive creating severe traffic problems and expense to the importing public. On May 3, 1977, customs realized the problem, and rescinded the order of December. Exhibit “C."

5. The value of a timely response can hardly be measured. Everyone seeks a reply-customs seems most lax. Perhaps this goes to the general storm of paper work that whirls about us in this century. But, one who seeks return of money, or a decision should be given preference. Exhibit “A” is an example of months going by and Exhibit “D” are two letters unanswered at this time.

SUMMARY

Importers have two basic problems: (1) receiving their merchandise without delay, and (2) knowing that their transaction with customs has been concluded. With the change of district or port directors comes the inevitable change of procedures. This relates to problem (1), and is time consuming. The customhouse broker, although governed by the same regulations, must always learn new procedures. (See Exhibit “C” above.)

Finality of a Customs' transaction can be done—and all the special interest can also be satisfied. The tariff schedule needs to be changed from "ad valorum" to “specific” rates. If "value” is so important, then let there be an “official value” published by Customs which is based upon the weight of the item. This is similar to the system used by Mexico. Weight is readily ascertained and the transaction closed without continued reference to "fraud.” The chaotic condition that the importer finds himself in costing his merchandise has ended. If the stock market can keep up daily values on the myriad of stocks on all the exchanges, U.S. Customs can surely do the same.

I appreciate the opportunity to submit ideas for the betterment of service to the importing public.

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The following articles:
ONE 6 CESSNA 310 SERIAL # 3.000023
Mexican Reg # XB-muz

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Vehicle detained (sec. 594 T.A. 1930) 1or payment oi penalty. Yes! ) NO) (Signature of Customs Inspector) ***************************************************************

The following FINE ( ), PENALTY ( ) and/or DUTY ( ) is due the Government for violation on the Customs Revenue Laws as stated hereon. SEIZURE NO.: 76-3305 00366

DOMESTIC VALUE OF MOSE:

FINE FORDEITURE OR LAW VIOLATED: 11 45C 1595 (A) PONVALLY INCUKFOD:

DUTY DUE:

Merchandise will be released upon payment of forft:

ire.

Il you feel there are extenuating circumstances, you have the ri: notition for administrative relief. Instruccions reeding the ..7d hiling 02 petitions are on the reverse sice or :: form.

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VI-RC-88

CON-9-IC

THE DEPARTENT OF THE TREASURY

U. S. CUSTOMS SERVICE
REGION VI, HOUSTON, TEXAS

T.I.B. No._70-H

Hinni 60, TEXAS

PORT

DATE
ENTRY AND BOND WITHOUT SURETY OR CASH DEPOSIT FOR THE TEMPORARY IMPORTATION 07
SPECIAL CLASSIFICATIONS:

A. COMERCIAL SAMPLES SOLELY FOR USE IN TAKING ORDERS FOR MERCHANDISE
B. VEHICLES AND CRAFT OR NONRESIDENTS FOR RACES OR OTHER CONTESTS
C. PROFESSIONAL EQUIPMENT, TOOLS OF TRADE OP NONRESIDENTS FOR OWN USE
D. ANIMALS AND POULTRY FOZ EXHIBITION OR CO:PETITION
E. VEHICLES, BOATS & AIRCRAFT BROUGHT FOR REPAIRS OR ALTERATIONS

TSUS 864.20 TSUS 864. 35 TSUS 864.53 TSUS 264.60 TSUS 854.05

Address

I, ANTONIO ORTH PADILLA of 309 LAMEZ MAYON inmulco, 4X declare that the following articles covered by this entry are being imported for the use of the owner above for the purpose of: A, B, C, D, E. (Circle one).

DESCRIPTION OF MERCHANDISE XB-Muz

FAGE

MARKS & NUMBERS

ITEM NUMBER

RATE

VALUE

Cessnas 310 (1970) 694.40

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(Attach. additional sheets or invoices if more space is required)

I declare that these articles are not to be put to any other use, and they are not Imported for sale, or sale on approval. I further declare that I will present this foran and the articles for examination to a L. S. Customs cfficer immediately prior to my departure from the U. S. a:

CATE TE

on or about 30 DAYS from DATE Above I will pay as liquidated damages a sum equal to double the estimated duties as determined at the time of entry (except for ite:s described in A. and C. above, in which case I will pay 110% of such estimated duties) should I fail to comply with the foregoing declarations. Estimated duty on the above articles is de Bond equal to twice the duty, or to 110% of the duty, (to the next whole dollar) is

In addition, where fraud or culpable negligence is involved, such failure will render me ineligible for the privilege of future importations under these tariff classifications unless formal entry is made with bond supported by surety or cash deposit.

.

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(Signature of Importer

Release to the importer without surety or cash deposit on bond pursuant to Section 10.36, CR, and Section 3.41, 3.42, 3.43, 3.44 & 3.44A Inspector's Manual

PART I
PART II (See reverse)

Eluedas 12066

U. S. CUSTCMS OFFICER

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This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 6, 1976, concerning one Cessna 310, serial number 31000023, bearing registration number XB-MUZ, seized April 30, 1976, at McAllen, Texas, from Leon Garcia under the provisions of sections 6.2, 6.11, and 10.36a of the Customs Regulations.

Please be advised that the matter has been referred to Headquarters, Washington, D. C., for consideration and ruling. Upon receipt of the decision, you will be so notified.

Your request that you be furnished with copies of our file is being referred to the Regional Counsel's Office in Houston, Texas, for appropriate action.

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